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Psilocybin mushrooms, also known as psychedelic mushrooms, are mushrooms that contain the psychedelic drugs psilocybin and psilocin.  Common colloquial terms include magic mushrooms and ‘shrooms’.  About 40 species are found in the genus Psilocybe. Psilocybe cubensis is the most common psilocybin mushroom in subtropical areas and the black market.


Magic mushrooms are naturally occurring, non-poisonous fungi which contain varying amounts of the conscious-altering substances psilocybin and psilocin. When eaten or drunk in a tea, they combine readily and hungrily with the brain to evoke a powerful psychedelic trip experience, shorter-lived but similar in tone and effect to LSD. There are over 90 species of magic mushrooms worldwide. Common varieties include UK and Northern Europe’s ‘Liberty Caps’ (Psilocybe semilanceata) and North America’s Psilocybe cubensis. The world’s most famous magic mushroom is the European Fly Agaric (amanita muscaria), the red-and-white spotted toadstool which often pops up in children’s literature. However, it contains not psilocybin, but ibotenic acid and muscimol which have very different effects.


Mushrooms are light to dark brown in color and come in fresh, dried or powdered forms. All of them taste disgusting. They smell distinctively ‘mushroomy’ and are impossible to confuse with any other powdered drug. They usually sell for around $7 per gram.


Magic mushrooms are schedule 1 drugs in the US. In the UK, mushrooms and psilocybin are class A drugs, alongside LSD, cocaine and heroin.

Psychedelic Effects

Four levels or intensity of effect have been observed in the psychedelic experience. The strongest factor in determining level is dosage but relaxation, experience and environment also play a big part (see Mushroom Dangers).


Current feeling prior to taking drug

Off Baseline:

The mushrooms have a mild effect on the user. The user may giggle and they will feel relaxed. It’s described as feeling like you’re “high” but with a strong visual perception. Colors may seem brighter and the patterns on the surface of things may appear more eye-grabbing. Some people may feel light and euphoric, with a slight tingling in the body.

Plus One (+1)

  • – Stronger visual hallucinations
  • – Bright colors stand out, objects appear to breathe or ripple
  • – Colored patterns behind the eyes are vivid, more active
  • – Thoughts and thinking become enhanced
  • – Creative urges. Euphoria
  • – Connection with others, empathy
  • – Sense of time distorted or lost

Plus Two (+2)

  • – Very obvious visual effects
  • – Curved or warped patterns
  • – Familiar objects appear strange as surface details distract the eye
  • – Imagination and ‘mind’s eye’ images vivid, three dimensional
  • – Some confusion of the senses
  • – Music is powerful and can affect mood
  • – Sense of time lost

Plus Three (+3)

  • – Very strong hallucinations such as objects morphing into other objects
  • – Intense depersonalization – the barriers between you and the universe begin to break down
  • – You feel you have connection with everything around you
  • – You can experience contradictory feelings simultaneously
  • – Some loss of reality
  • – Time becomes meaningless
  • – Senses blend into one
  • – Feeling of being born
  • – Multiple splitting of the ego
  • – Powerful awareness of your own mental processes and senses
  • – Highly symbolic visions when eyes are closed.

Plus Four (+4)

  • – A very rare experience
  • – Total loss of visual connection with reality
  • – The senses cease to function in the normal way
  • – Total loss of self
  • – Merging with space, other objects, or the universe
  • – The loss of reality becomes so severe that it defies explanation
  • – Pure white light
  • – Difficult to put into words.

Mushroom Dangers

There are no known adverse side-effects of using mushrooms, other than leaving you feeling fatigued and probably surrounded by a load of weird paintings and some half-eaten chocolate bars. However, magic mushrooms and other psychedelics are powerful mental amplifiers. If you are feeling depressed, anxious, sick at the world, at the quality of modern television, at rampant consumerism, at life in general, do not take psychedelics. Mushroom effects and your reaction to them are strongly determined by set and setting. Set is your mindset when taking the drug; setting is where you are.

Know Your Shrooms

One of the dangers associated with taking magic mushrooms has do with the fungi themselves. It’s dangerous to pick your own mushrooms if you don’t know the effects. Unless you are very familiar with the “right” kind of mushrooms to get the effect you’re looking for, don’t attempt to find your own. Some species of poisonous mushrooms look very similar to the psychedelic type, and you want to avoid them.

Moldy Magic Mushrooms

Whether you have grown your own mushrooms or have acquired them elsewhere, check them carefully before you ingest them. Any shrooms that have brown or black mold on them should be trashed. Mushrooms that have gone bad can make you very ill due to the bacteria they carry.

Don’t Use Mushrooms Alone

Tripping alone for the first time is not recommended. An experienced and trusted friend should either join you, or should abstain and act as a sober sitter or guide to just be around and to help you if you start suffering a bad trip.

Bad Trips on Psychedelic Mushrooms

When you decide to use psychedelic mushrooms, you have no idea what kind of experience you are going to have with them. Your trip could be a feast for the eyes of bright colors and wonderful sights. You also run the risk of having a bad trip, and there is no way of knowing in advance what kind of experience you are going to have. The fact that you have used the mushrooms in the past and had a good experience doesn’t mean that you are protected from having a bad trip at any time you decide to use them. During a bad trip, you could feel extremely anxious and even have feelings of paranoia. To lower the risk of having a bad trip, start by taking a low dose. Give yourself some time (approximately 90 minutes) to see how the shrooms are affecting you before taking some more.

Mixing Shrooms and Other Drugs

If you are taking any other medications, it’s a good idea to stay away from magic mushrooms. The combination of alcohol and shrooms is also one you want to avoid. Alcohol is a depressant and you probably don’t want to be tripping as well as experiencing the effects of being drunk.

Mushrooms Addiction

Mushrooms are not physically addictive but you wouldn’t want to take them on a regular basis. As with any mind-altering substance, users confirm that their psychological effects can be so compelling which make it hard to resist. A psychological dependency on shrooms is a real possibility, and should not be discounted by users.  Some people turn to psychedelic mushrooms out of curiosity. Others look for a way to escape from negative aspects of everyday living and look to tripping on mushrooms to help them cope with the feeling of being depressed, bored, or to help them deal with emotional problems.

Contributed by Guest Blogger Jill Erickson

‘Magic’ Mushrooms and their Effects
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